“You look so young and cheerful”. Manager said.
“It was taken some ten years back just after my marriage.” Customer said.
“Thank you very much for bringing this and showing us. I want one like this.” he said showing another specimen of a duly filled card.
“I will give next week sir as I have to take one from the studio which is far away in the township.”
“We’ll open the account and you can operate but dont’ forget to submit the photo.”
Manager said and closed the matter .
He said to me, “Here we have to explain everything in detail and make them understand. One should have lot of patience to deal with them.” Then the routine work went on for sometime. The tea boy came to asked whether we wanted tea. He was in a very playful and joyful mood. He was happy to break the news. “Indira Gandhi has been assassinated sir. Some people in the tea shop were talking Sir, that she has been killed by her own security staff.” We were shocked hearing the news. Immediately we got it confirmed through radio news. Both of us were discussing about the various conspiracy theories about the incident leading us nowhere with the then available news inputs. The tea boy came back to collect money. He was then also laughing, jumping and telling the same thing. I caught him over the shoulder and talked him what was so happy to feel about. My manager called me and said in a schoolboy english.
“Leave him man he doesn’t know anything. I am relieving you now. Many of the buses leaving the hill station would have been cancelled. Pack off and go home. Along with this I am giving a copy of the relieving order marked to Regional Office. Kindly post it tomorrow. I’ll be visiting my native place in the course of next week. “I’ll call you bye.”
“Will he do like this if she had been his mother?” I asked him. He patted my back and beckoned me to leave without time loss. All this happened rapidly and he was in no mood to talk. I shook hands said bye and left.
I rushed to the room where we were staying, changed my pant to jeans, had my warm clothing on with my cap and sports shoe. My shoulder bag was heavy due to the camera gears. I left to find that all the buses were cancelled and I was walking and beconing to every passer by with my thumbs up for a lift, but no one stopped. I had to depend on cargo lorries or vans to hop in and go. One lorry came and when I waved my hand it went far ahead and stopped as though with lot of deliberation. The driver waved hands. I ran and got into the lorry. The cleaner boy seated near the driver moved a little and gave space for me to sit. I closed the door. The lorry moved forward. I just peeped out. A tea picking women and her little child were coming. She was carrying a big collecting basket in one side. Both of them waved hands at me. I also waved hands bidding goodbye till they receded away from sight. I turned and settled myself. The driver and cleaner boy gave some customary talks. I could easily guess that both of them have drunk like fish and were in high delirium. The driver was going on talking looking at me with no concentration at the road. I realised that I had taken a wrong decision of alighting this lorry. I have heard about frequent fatal accidents in this hilly route. I asked the driver to stop so that I can get down. He understood me and said,” Don’t worry friend I will safely land you in the plains.” The situation has become inevitable. I did not prey god, for I pretty well knew that god was not a fool sitting somewhere to sanction my prayers. I have read about ‘Near death experiences.’ Invariably all the subjects who were interviewed have said that they had a feeling of traversing at a high velocity speed in a dark tunnel towards a bright white void of oblivion. Some people have also expressed that they saw apparitions of their dead relatives. At the moment the lorry would nosedive and somersault causing grave injuries and metamorphose into a high speed travel to the unknown white oblivion. All these thoughts came fleeting in infinitesimal moments of time…Did he land me safe in the plains? …yes he did land me safe in the plains and that is why I am blogging this slice of life to you.